Which Tech Will Win the Ocean XPRIZE?

Which Tech Will Win the Ocean XPRIZE?

It's understood that a quarter to a third of the growing levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere dissolve into the seas, raising the pH as a consequence. Yet as it stands, most sensors for directly measuring pH are sparse, unreliable and produce questionable data.

The 14 semi-finalists were recently announced for the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE - a global competition to create "accurate and affordable pH sensor technology that will enable better measurement of our oceans' chemistry". Two winning teams will receive a cash prize of $1 million each - one prize for accuracy, based upon performance, and one for affordability, based on cost and usability. Teams may choose to reinvest any winnings in further refining their technology. 

This particular XPRIZE seeks to understand the full effects of ocean pH changing so dramatically, and where the greatest changes are occurring. Ocean acidification spells doom for coral reefs around the world, with huge knock on effects for the sea life that depend upon them. The XPRIZE group also plans to help teams commercialize new sensor technology, which could eventually be used by virtually anybody interested in monitoring ocean health.

The range of sensor technologies developed by the teams has already been put through three months of testing in controlled lab conditions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. This May, seven finalists are set to submit their technologies for deep-sea trials off the coast of Hawaii. This period of testing will test the prototype devices to their limits in terms of pressure and depth. The winners will be announced in July 2015.

There's a wide range of teams and sensor types in the final 14. They include a team from the UK's National Oceanography Centre and PhFineScale - a team composed mainly of teenagers. Smartphin is another team from a Californian engineering consultancy, who are developing sensors that can be fitted to normal surfboards for crowdsourcing data with a difference.

Who will you be betting on?

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